During UNC's national championship game against Kansas Monday night, Chapel Hill restaurants and bars were filled to the brim with loudly cheering fans and foot traffic.
Local businesses found themselves in the midst of two historic nights of business and basketball. And despite Chapel Hill coming home with a 72-69 loss following the game, the Final Four and national championship games brought forth brand recognition to sales spikes for businesses throughout the area.
Robert Poitras, a fourth-generation UNC alumnus who owns Carolina Brewery, said it is a special experience to be in the middle of the celebrations.
“I tell our staff and I tell college students that come into the restaurant that they’re going to remember this for the rest of their life, and I will as well,” he said. “As a business owner, this is going to be a top-three moment in the history of me operating restaurants.”
The restaurant sold $100 tickets to watch the national championship game at the establishment, which sold out in just four minutes.
And for the Final Four game, tickets sold out in minutes.
Other restaurants across the area saw similar demand, including Sup Dogs, which had a line around the corner for reservations to watch the men's Final Four game. The restaurant set sales records on Saturday for the game, owner Bret Oliverio said.
Sup Dogs’ reservations for the national championship game were set similarly to the Final Four, with people waiting many hours for a spot inside.
One challenge that arose at the restaurant was proper staffing, since many of Sup Dogs’ employees are students who wanted to enjoy watching the games. But despite this, he said his staff rose to the occasion and pulled off two successful evenings.
Unlike Sup Dogs, this was Buena Vibra Kitchen and Bar's first Chapel Hill Final Four and national championship experience that the owners have operated. The restaurant opened in early February.
"It’s a surprise for us,” said Jaime Reanos, one of the owners. “I used to watch the games, but I’ve never been in it."
He said he felt bad turning people away who attempted to make reservations for the Final Four game. It was necessary due to the restaurant's limited capacity and in making sure the restaurant provides quality service.
Long waits were definitely common in purchasing tickets for the Final Four and national championship game.
After waiting for two and a half hours for $30 tickets and four and a half hours for seats, UNC sophomore Alex Conley watched the national championship game at Might As Well.
“We wanted to be around a good environment of students and people that are very excited,” she said. "We didn’t just want to sit at home and watch it."
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery tried to regulate their high demand by reserving seats, with potential patrons paying $40 in advance for the semifinal and $50 for the championship game.
For the semifinal, the restaurant’s approximate 250 seats went up for reservation online at noon on March 28. They were gone in minutes. Reservations for the national championship game — which went on sale Sunday at noon — also sold out in one minute.
While it may seem like his restaurant made a lot of money over the weekend, Scott Maitland, TOPO’s owner, said he actually operated at a loss. TOPO would normally seat 1,250 people on a Saturday night, but reserved about 250 spots for the entire night.
“Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, you’re going to be killing it, you’re going to be making so much money,’ but we already would be killing it,” Maitland said. “We’d be killing it more. We’re a really busy restaurant."
Despite the monetary loss, Maitland said these games are an overall net-positive for his business and Chapel Hill.
“Not everything can be boiled down to an economic transaction,” he said. “Also, long-term, it’s really good for branding, not just for Top of the Hill, but the town. It’s what makes us special, it’s why we’re here.”
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